I become more dismayed every day at the failure not only of feminism to acknowledge that gender is a variable (for that is to be expected), but of others to point this out. Here are some points on the subject which are by no means a masterpiece.
The brilliant Girl Writes What has a great video on atheism (for those of you who don’t know, feminism has caused significant disagreement within the atheist community) where she points out that the question of whether God exists and the issue of whether religion is good or bad are separate, and that conflating the two is problematic. It seems to me that the same logic can be applied to the question of gender differences; the idea that gender differences are socially constructed rather than innate, of course, forms the backbone of much of the feminist activity going on today (hence campaigns seeking to brand princess related toys ‘sexist’ etc.), is separate to the question of whether those differences are good or bad.
Anyway, feminists currently working on the theory that we are all brainwashed into our gender roles bemoan this tragedy. But they also accuse people who make ‘negative’ generalisations about women (apparently they are the self-appointed judges of what is and is not ‘negative’) of being ‘sexist’. Hang on a minute though, if us women really are brainwashed into…shock horror… liking shoes, then we like shoes. Surely in that case it’s not sexist to say that we like shoes, is it? Or is it sexist because women don’t actually like shoes, and the whole thing’s a lie? Because in that case we can’t be brainwashed, can we? Make up your mind please. Otherwise we end up in a totally circular train of logic – ‘women like shoes because they live in a society that tells them to like shoes’. Aside from being a total insult to the intelligence of women, this argument fails to address any external factors for why this might be. (Go on someone; tell me in the comments that the external factor is ‘patriarchy’. Go on. Do it.)
So, I think feminism shouldn’t get to have it both ways – if gender differences are ingrained from birth, why bother branding those who draw attention to these differences as ‘sexists’. Either the stereotypes have a basis in day to day reality or they don’t. If you want people to stop saying that women love shoes because you don’t think that sort of thing should be encouraged (because you think gender differences are bad), why not explain to the people who make adverts like the one in the link above that they ought to join in the righteous reconditioning of social consciousness – using all product design and marketing material to teach women and men right thinking, rather than to sell products? Oh, wait. Nobody would listen to such puritanical nonsense. Better stick to the oppression theory in that case.
Doesn’t it seem more likely that while men and women are equally capable of shallowness, callousness, greed and superficiality, that the manner in which these traits are expressed will be conditioned by gender to a certain extent?
For example, does it not make sense that people will interact with individuals who are potential sexual partners differently to how they interact with those who are not? And that this might hold when a person is being both pleasant and unpleasant?
But no. None of this logic is allowed, because men and women are supposed to be equal. Equal as in the same. Nobody is allowed to mention the word ‘biology’ (seriously, they fall into name-calling apoplexy if you do), and therefore nobody is allowed to suggest that we might want to view gender as a scientific variable. Nothing can be the result of a variety of factors coming together to produce an outcome; only discrimination can explain why the world doesn’t allow people who are slightly smaller and have babies & boobies to live lives just like men.
Well, I’m not just a less muscular version of a man, thank you very much. My strength does not lie in muscular power. If, on average, men are capable of physically overpowering women does it not make sense that women have a different kind of power, a different potency, a different allure? And yes, that power might be connected to sexuality. You may not like that it is, but just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean there’s an evil abstract entity enforcing it that you have to bring down.
Well, anyway that was my little foray into feminist thinking. Now I’m going to return to something I said above. I think it might be a little bit more likely. The real problem here is that feminists don’t like gender differences. And that’s ok. You don’t have to like everything. And you can campaign against anything you don’t like. That’s the beauty of living in a free country (although here in the UK feminism is working on changing that, but anyway…). But please don’t construct a narrative in which we are all at the mercy of an invisible force that only you have the intelligence to see and understand.